It is a truth universally acknowledged that collections of women’s history and cultural achievements must be in want of a home. Luckily they have one in Glasgow Women’s Library- a library, archive and museum collection which holds and celebrates the cultural, historical, political and social achievements of women across the UK. Last year, the GWL celebrated its 21st birthday, and this year it is moving to a new fit-for-purpose premises in Bridgeton.
Glasgow Women’s Library is not therefore just a normal library. Our collection is ever growing as people become more switched on the importance of preserving the achievements and histories of women. Our collections house many nationally significant items. The Lesbian Archive is the largest resource for Lesbian and Bisexual women’s history in the UK. This collection houses among other significant items collections of Lesbian Journals, among them important magazines like Arena 3, Sappho and Diva, as well as the archives of important Lesbian organisations such as the Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group and GEMMA, a support and campaign group for Disabled lesbians. As well as the Lesbian Archive, we have many other collections of feminist and women’s journals like Spare Rib, WIRES, Harpies & Quines, Off Our Backs, Trouble and Strife and many, many more. We also house a significant collection of Suffragette and Anti-Suffragette materials, and house the archives of Scottish Women’s Aid and the Scottish Abortion Campaign. These are just some of the gems which sit in the GWL’s archive and museum collections.
As well as this, the library has an ongoing commitment to the empowerment of women who use our services. As well as hosting ESOL lessons and Adult literacy and numeracy lessons, we also run popular women’s history courses across Glasgow and beyond. These courses are designed to give women the tools they need to investigate their own histories, as well as the important histories of women in their own communities. We also run workshops and groups with BME women in Glasgow, and are committed to ensuring the histories and contributions of Glasgow’s ethnic communities is promoted and celebrated. As well as these programs, we also run a group called “Hens Tae Watch Oot Fur”, a group of young lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer identified young women who work with our collections and create fanzines based on their experiences of being LGBTQ in Glasgow.
Some of the most popular work that GWL does are our women’s history tours. These are researched by the library’s very own Women’s History Detectives. So far we have tours for Glasgow’s West End, East End, Garnethill, Merchant City and Necropolis, and there are many more in the pipeline. Through this research, the women’s history groups have unearthed and revealed many of the hugely significant and often highly visible (if neglected) contributions which women have made to Glasgow’s history. Our tours are made into leaflets containing information and routes, audio podcasts and guided tours given by the Women’s History Detectives. For more information on these tours, as well as information about booking onto upcoming tours, please visit this address: http://womenslibrary.org.uk/whats-on/women-make-history/women%E2%80%99s-heritage-walks/
This year the library moves into a new and exciting territory, with the promise of having its very own fit-for-purpose home. In October 2013 we will move to Landressy Street, the former home of Bridgeton Library. We have new and exciting plans for our new home- the opening of the library’s very own museum space, a brand new archive capable of storing the entirety of our collection, as well as brand new spaces for our learning and outreach programmes. As our collections expand, so do our ambitions and it is hoped that the next few years will firmly establish Glasgow Women’s Library as a truly significant cultural and historical resource for Scotland and the rest of the UK.